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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:53 am    Post subject: Unexpected Visitors Reply with quote

There were distinct advantages to having the Priestess of Avalon for a wife. At the same time, Rhys was beginning to learn that Natalya, for all her practical side, could be more than a little impulsive when it came to friends and family. Take this morning, for example. She had been impatiently wanting to go and visit Ian and Aurelia ever since they'd received the call that told them mother and baby were doing well, and had decided that four days was long enough to wait. Rhys and Ana had been bundled out of bed, fed, dressed, and whisked through Avalon as a minor traveling cheat to end up in the living room of the Evans' home outside Huntingdon. The Evans' themselves appeared to still be asleep, but that hadn't stopped Nat from leaving Ana to amuse herself while she investigated the state of their kitchen.

Rhys was still bleary-eyed when his wife had woken him from a sound sleep and bundled Ana and himself up for a trip through Avalon to wind up at the hunting cottage in central Pennsylvania where he'd spent most of his childhood. Even half-asleep, he couldn't help but tease his wife as he watched her poke about the kitchen Aurelia had made her own, since he'd signed over ownership. "You realize this is breaking and entering," he pointed out with a smirk, though he doubted it mattered much to a woman who was a master thief. It amused him to no end that she'd cheated by taking a shortcut through Avalon, when it would have only taken a few hours to drive here, but he hadn't bothered to point that out yet.

Nat flashed him a glittering smile, more than happy to take the full blame if it meant she got a good look at the little family who had become such surprisingly good friends over the past months. "I broke nothing, and there is no evidence to say that we entered," she pointed out sweetly, putting the coffee pot on automatically. "Oh, the wonderful things I could have stolen years ago if I'd only had access to the mists." She laughed, rummaging through her bag as above them the strident tones of a newborn in full voice made itself known. "I think we may have company soon."

"Which is probably why you didn't," he muttered, before poking about in the cupboard for a glass so he could pour Ana a cup of juice before she got too whiny. He perked an ear toward the sound of a hungry newborn making herself known and smirked. "Ah, to be able to sleep an entire night without having to hear that." He couldn't help but grin, knowing from experience what the new parents were going through, but not having much sympathy for them.

With Ana clinging onto his leg - because, lucky them, she was getting to grips with walking much faster than they'd been warned about - he had a little trouble moving about, but Nat couldn't help grinning at the sight of her husband and daughter being domesticated in someone else's kitchen. "Should we make them breakfast, do you think, dusha moya?" she suggested to him ... which was code for I think you should cook something so I don't get slapped for being impatient. From above came the sound of a feminine groan and yawn, footsteps shuffling across the landing in answer to the squawling from the newborn.

"Should we surprise them or let them know we're here?" Rhys countered, dropping his voice to that of a hushed whisper. He shuffled over to the fridge to hunt for the juice he hoped was hiding in there, with Ana clinging to his leg the whole way, knowing the other couple was likely to hear them before long. He just hoped Aurelia didn't think they were burglars and put some work some spell on them.

"What will they do to us if they are surprised?" Nat asked with a mischievous grin. They could hear the footsteps above their head pausing, and then shuffling a little way across the room. It sounded like a diaper change before any food was going to be administered to the screaming infant, anyway. "Maybe we should make sure the first one they see is Ana."

"Dada," Ana murmured, little hands reaching for the cup of juice, fingers opening and closing possessively.

"Kiss us or kill us," Rhys replied, though from the smile on his face he doubted it would be the latter. They'd probably be grateful for whatever help they offered. "We could have called first, you know," he pointed out, still whispering as he crouched down to offer Ana her juice, staying close by and watching her carefully as she was just learning how to handle a cup. "You just couldn't wait to get your hands on that baby," he teased. "Admit it!"

For a moment, it looked as though Nat might protest her innocence, before her smile burst into a bright grin, dripping with playful mischief. "You caught me, milaya," she teased him in answer, watching as Ana slurped from the sippy cup she was still learning how to use. "As much as I adore our Anushka, I miss cuddling with the teeny person she used to be." And knowing Natalya, she would ensure that Ian and Aurelia thought handing their new baby over to her was entirely their own idea, as well. "Do you think they are eating properly?"

"And don't give me that dusha moya stuff. I know what you're up to! You're trying to get me to volunteer to make breakfast, but guess what, Miss Smarty Pants? This was your idea, not mine," he told her, though from the look on his face, he was mostly teasing. He enjoyed teasing her, even if it did get him a swat and a snarl every now and then. "What do you think, Anabanana?" he asked their tiny daughter. "Do you think Dada should make his famous pancakes for Aunty Aurelia and Uncle Ian, or do you think Mummy should do it?"

Dribbling juice down her chin from a mouthful that hadn't been swallowed, Ana giggled at the silly nickname only her father used on her, far more interested in seeing what happened if you turned a half full sippy cup upside down than whatever her parents were talking about. As for Nat, well ... she offered her husband her sweetest smile, batting her lashes at him. "I will make lunch, if you make them breakfast," she bargained innocently, cocking her head toward the sound of still sleepy footsteps on the way down the stairs, the crying a little muted but no less urgent for that fact.

Rhys deftly caught hold of the cup before it was turned upside down. If he could hunt monsters for a living, he could certainly keep two steps ahead of a not-quite-one year old - most of the time, anyway. "And don't get any ideas about having another baby yet either!" he warned in a hushed whisper as the footsteps got closer. He hoped Aurelia didn't turn the corner with a breast exposed ready for feeding, still wondering if they should give the other couple some warning.

"But you like babies," Nat whispered back to him through her grin, looking to the door as Aurelia shuffled into sight, still in her pajamas, her long hair tangled and hanging loose over her shoulders as she jostled the wobbly shape of her newborn daughter against her shoulder.

She looked distinctly bleary-eyed, the product of nowhere near enough sleep yet, which was probably why she didn't notice their visitors at all for a long moment. It was only when she reached for the fridge door and received an Ana hug around her leg for her efforts that her brain seemed to engage at all. Rearing back in surprise, there was a moment when she shimmered out of view, her hand curling protectively to her daughter's head, before she shimmered back into sight, blinking in surprise at their unexpected guests. "Did I let you keep the key?"

Not given a chance to respond before Aurelia came shuffling into view, Rhys couldn't help but chuckle as the witch nearly shimmered from view before realizing there was nothing to be concerned about. "I married a cat burglar, remember?" he said with a grin. "And this was all her idea!" he added, wasting no time in placing the blame. Of course, if Aurelia was happy to see them, he might be just as quick to take the credit.

Ian had come to a halt in the doorway, still a little bleary-eyed with sleep himself. It had been a few days at least since he and Aurelia had gotten a full night of uninterrupted sleep. "You could have called first," he said, relieved he'd had the good sense to wear pajamas.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"I did not think you would want your sleep interrupted," Nat offered as an excuse for not calling in advance, but it was difficult to be put out when you were presented with the Russian woman's hopeful smile. "I made coffee," she added hurriedly, gesturing to the pot as Aurelia rolled her eyes, laughing faintly.

"And I suppose you are entirely innocent, hmm?" she accused Rhys, looking down at the little person holding onto her leg. "And bonjour to you, little Ana. May I have my leg back so I can feed my little girl before she starts crying again?"

"As innocent as the day I was born," Rhys replied with a grin that looked about as far from innocent as one could get. "Oh!" he exclaimed with a chuckle, as he realized Ana had wrapped her arms around Aurelia's leg. He scooped her up in his arms, before peering over at Aurelia's little bundle. "So, this is the new addition, huh? Have you named her yet?"

Ian rolled his eyes, slightly annoyed, but only because he wasn't awake yet and hadn't had his first cup of coffee. Yes, coffee. Baby duty called for something stronger than milky tea. "We did not name her after you, if that's what you're wondering."

"Da, coffee." Nat, for all her mischief, was quick to usher Ian down into a seat, recognizing the annoyed undertones of a man who was not yet used to being sleep deprived for the sake of a baby. "Sit, I will pour."

Laughing softly, Aurelia reached into the fridge for a bottle, letting Rhys and Ana take their first look at the grumbling newborn on her shoulder as she flicked on the warmer. "Non, we named her after the most misunderstood witches in history," she teased, flicking a tired smile over to Ian. She highly doubted Rhys would be able to guess their daughter's name from that clue.

"Uh, you named her Sabrina?" he guessed. "No! I know ..." He beamed proudly. "Samantha!" The smile faded as he realized that wasn't right either. "Please tell me you didn't name her Endora!" He started ticking off famous witches' names in his head, but the only names he could come up with were movie or TV show witches.

Ian mumbled a grateful, "Thank you," to Nat for the chair and the coffee. There were circles under his eyes, but at least, it was proof he was helping with the newborn chores. "Is he always like this?" he asked Nat, before rubbing a hand across his face.

"Dadadada!" Ana exclaimed happily at the sight of the wee person, lunging for a better look and trusting her father not to drop her.

Nat chuckled, setting a cup of coffee down in front of Ian as he rubbed his face. "You might be surprised to note that this is actually rather restrained," she assured the professor with a smile. "Be glad he is on Ana duty, or you might have been embraced when you first appeared."

Startled by the unexpectedly loud declaration from the other small person in the room, the newborn on Aurelia's shoulder flinched and whimpered, gearing up for another screaming session that faded away as her mother's hand gently rubbed over her back. Said mother was also staring at Rhys as though he had lost his mind. "History," she repeated for him in amusement. "Not television."

"Hey, I'll have you know Samantha was very misunderstood!" he pointed out in his own defense, though he got her point. "History, okay," he quieted, mulling that over a minute as Ana made another lunge, this time for her mother, with a demand of, "Mama!"

"No offense, Natalya," Ian started. "But if your husband tries to hug me before I've had my coffee, I may slug him."

"Viviane!" Rhys shouted triumphantly with a smug grin on his face.

"Indoor voices, children," Nat laughed at both her husband and daughter, reaching to take Ana from Rhys before the little girl overbalanced them both. Sitting down with Ian, she smiled, producing something for the toddler to gum on with her few teeth. "I promise, I will not allow him to hug you until I have had my hug," she added to Ian with a teasing smile.

Across the kitchen, Aurelia had retrieved the bottle from the warmer, shaking it to even the temperature as she smiled at Rhys. "That is her second name, yes," she agreed with her friend. "I am sure you can guess the first now you have found the second. Is that coffee?"

Rhys narrowed his eyes at Aurelia and the bottle-warming business. "Aren't you going to ... you know ..." he gestured with a hand in the vague direction of her breasts. It was a good thing he was as harmless as a two-year old or another husband might have taken offense. He didn't bother to answer her but went to pour her a cup while he thought the guessing game over. "Um ..." he mused aloud. "Morgan?" he guessed tentatively. If they were going with an Arthurian theme, which it seemed they were, she was the only other name that made sense.

She smiled gently, shaking her head at Rhys' suggestion that she should probably whip out a boob. "She and I, we have had too many disagreements over it," she explained, easing to sit down at the table. "My breasts were apparently not made with babies in mind." Not that she seemed to mind this too much, since it meant she wasn't the only one being rousted out of bed in the middle of the night. Gently applying the teat to her daughter's lips, Aurelia relaxed. "Oui, well done," she congratulated Rhys for guessing correctly. "Morgan Viviane."

"What were they like?" Rhys asked, suddenly curious as to Elaine's predecessor. He'd heard a little about their trip to the past, but he hadn't been there to witness it himself. He'd been a little jealous upon learning what had happened, but it hadn't done anything to change his relationship with the Lady of Avalon or their positions as Champion and Priestess. Now that Nat had taken charge of Ana, it freed him to move about the kitchen and get breakfast started, without bothering to ask permission. He knew the kitchen and the house like the back of his hand, though Aurelia had made her own personal changes.

Aurelia's eyes flickered to her husband at Rhys' query. She hadn't been on the best of terms with Viviane, though the former Lady of Avalon had given them permission and her blessing to marry while they were on the isle itself. "They were not Elaine," she said eventually, her gaze mostly on the tiny girl sucking on the bottle she held.

"Why didn't you name her Elaine, then?" he asked, unruffled by her reply and not missing a beat as he gathered together the ingredients he'd need to make his famous pancakes. "You have any blueberries?" he asked, searching the fridge with an armful of various ingredients. "Or strawberries? Or maybe chocolate chips?" He'd oooh and aaaah over the baby later. At the moment, he was too distracted with the cooking and conversation. Ian exchanged a glance with his wife, wondering just how they should answer that question.

Nat was doing her best not to ooh and aah over the baby herself, distracted with her own daughter as Ana chattered away to her in that beautiful little gabble she had developed over the last few months. Aurelia smiled at Ian, knowing how to answer Rhys' question. "Because without Morgan and Viviane, we would not have Elaine," she said simply. "We would not have Avalon. And there is plenty of fruit in the drawer."

"Without the two of you, we would not have Avalon," Rhys remarked, having had a few months to come to grips with the reality of that. What if he had never met Aurelia? What if he had killed her when she'd been a demon, instead of helping her reclaim her human soul? What if she hadn't met Ian? What if they'd never found whatever it was they'd found that had taken them to Avalon? What if, what if, what if. The what ifs were unending, it seemed, where his life and those of his family and friends were concerned. It was like a circle of events that never quite ended, and Rhys knew it wouldn't have taken much for it all to have ended in disaster.
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Aurelia
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aurelia shook her head, not quite prepared to take the credit for a plan that had been Ian's. She had only provided the catalyst and the power, nothing more. She sat up, easing little Morgan over to her father. "You can finish her off, I need coffee," she informed her husband, draping the spit up cloth over his shoulder with a gentle caress to his cheek. "We wanted to remember the women who are forgotten, or vilified by myth and legend. The Morgaine we met was warm and gentle, and did not bear any cruelty in her heart. Viviane was powerful, older than time, and though her plans caused the downfall of Camelot, she gave her life to protect Avalon. They should not be forgotten."

"No, they shouldn't," Rhys agreed quietly, accepting that response, though if the frown on his face was any hint at his feelings, he was still a little envious that they'd had the opportunity to meet those legendary heroes of old, especially Arthur. He pulled open the drawer and finding a carton of blueberries, added it to the armful of ingredients he was going to need to make breakfast. "Sorry for bursting in on you two without notice," he apologized suddenly. "My wife was impatient to meet the new arrival."

Ian was looking more awake now that he'd nearly drained his cup of coffee, and he took their infant girl in his arms as though he was an old pro already after four days. "It's understandable," he replied, with a smile to his wife as he offered the bottle to the infant in his arms. "She is a beauty, isn't she?" He was still a little wide-eyed with wonder at the miracle that was their daughter.

Yawning over her coffee, Aurelia grinned at Rhys. "And you are just as impatient, I am sure," she told him cheerfully, glancing over as Nat leaned in to get her first good look at the newest member of the Evans' family.

"She is beautiful," Rhys' wife agreed with Ian, keeping a firm grip on Ana as the two of them inspected the little feet that kept wriggling against his arm as Morgan suckled. "Isn't she a beautiful baby, Anushka?" Ana seemed to consider the baby for a long moment, and abruptly lost interest, wriggling to be let down. Nat laughed, easing the little girl onto the floor. "Well, I think she is beautiful," she assured Ian.

"Don't be offended," Rhys said, looking over as Nat let their own daughter onto the floor. "Unless you bark or taste good, she's not easily impressed," he said of their daughter. "Are you, Annybananny?" He leaned down to hand her a fresh blueberry before turning back around to whip together the pancake batter. Ian beamed a grin back at Nat, obviously proud of their creation, even if she was to blame for their lack of sleep.

Chuckling, Nat eased her chair back to keep an eye on Ana, who took up station beneath the table to mush her blueberry into nothingness with a gummy grin. "Rhys, my darling, I love you dearly, but your names for her are getting worse," she pointed out in amusement, careful not to chuckle at the beaming smile on Ian's face as she turned back to the professor. "Is she Morgan, Morgana, or Morgaine?" she asked curiously.

"This from the woman who calls me a dumpling on a regular basis," Rhys teased back as he went in search of a frying pan. They'd established a long time ago that her petname for him had nothing to do with dumplings, but he couldn't help her teasing her about it anyway.

"Morgan," Ian replied. "We decided to go with a more modern rendering of the name."

"Morgana sounds too much like the silly wicked witch," Aurelia added, leaning down to discourage Ana from trying to eat the table leg. "She and Ana will be very close in age. It would be nice if they could be friends."

Nat chuckled, rolling her eyes in Rhys' direction fondly even as she chatted with their friends. "It would," she agreed. "But perhaps we should let them decide."

Rhys frowned a little thoughtfully, his back to their friends as he worked on breakfast. He had been given a glimpse of the future in Elaine's pool, and yet, there were still a lot of things he didn't know and hadn't been shown. He knew there were more children in their future, but he couldn't predict whether any of their children would be friends. "Maybe you should move closer," he suggested, though they were only a few minutes away via Avalon.

Ian exchanged glances with both Aurelia and Nat. For now, he was still employed at Penn State, but he wasn't opposed to moving if the right opportunity came along. He wasn't so sure how Aurelia felt about that though. "I'm not sure that's possible right now, but we're not that far away," Ian replied, feeling a little guilty at having to admit that.

Nat opened her mouth to offer them the means to buy a house and live comfortably in NY, and abruptly shut her mouth again with a slightly guilty glance at Rhys. He'd managed to get through to her that just because she could solve any and all financial problems for their friends didn't mean that they actually wanted her to.

Aurelia caught that look, smiling faintly. "We will have to see," she agreed with Ian. "It is not possible right now, of course, but perhaps in a year or so. We have to visit England once we are settled with Morgan."

The mention of England brought a frown to Ian's face this time, but he didn't explain why. He was obviously not native to the States, his accent giving him away as having English origins.

"It would be cool if you lived closer," Rhys continued, pouring little circles of batter on the griddle. "Our next door neighbors have twins about the same age. And Adam and Gina are bound to have another kid as soon as Gina gets a job that has a salary."

Aurelia reached over, gently stroking her knuckles against Ian's neck. She knew he didn't want to visit his father, but she refused to believe that any man, no matter how unpleasant, could fail to be swayed into a reconciliation with news of a grandchild.

Tactfully, Nat ignored the gentle moment between the other couple, her eyes rising to Rhys with a smile. "Are you about to volunteer me to supervise a playdate with five or more children, milaya?"

"No, of course not!" Rhys was quick to reply, a playful grin on his face. "I was planning on volunteering myself!" he told her, catching the gentle moment between the other couple long enough to give his wife a questioning glance.

Ian smiled softly at his wife, but said nothing in reply. No matter how things went back home with his father, he knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he didn't at least try to make amends with his father.

"Ah, now that I would like to watch," Natalya chuckled, more than happy to fill the kitchen with their voices while the tired coupling of Ian and Aurelia found their way back to their company. As baby Morgan sneezed abruptly around her bottle, Nat caught sight of Ana halfway through the open back door. "Oh no, you don't!" She really did have an amazing turn of speed, Natalya, even in heels.

Rhys glanced over at the open door, but Nat was too fast for him or for Ana, and he left her to it. "You know, we didn't just show up on your doorstep because we're nosy. We came here to help." It wasn't so long ago that Ana had been a newborn, and they'd been the ones who'd needed the extra help.


Last edited by Aurelia on Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aurelia looked genuinely surprised by this - pleased, but definitely surprised by the offer of help. She glanced a little guiltily at Morgan in Ian's arms. "Would that include ... looking after her so we can shower and sleep a little more?" she asked uncertainly, trying not to laugh at the sight and sound of Nat and Ana emptying the toddler's mouth of the paint flakes she'd managed to nibble on before she was caught.

"It includes whatever you need," Rhys replied. "Cooking, cleaning, diaper service, babysitting. We don't want to overstay our welcome though, so you tell us what you need and how long you'd like us to stay," he explained, turning serious.

Ian looked to Aurelia once again for her opinion on the matter. "We could use all the help we can get," he said quietly, more to her than to Rhys.

The witch held her husband's gaze with a rueful smile. "And there is no one I would trust more with our daughter," she admitted. Reluctant as she was to let Morgan out of her sight, she knew for a fact that Rhys and Natalya Bristol would start a minor war if anything tried to happen to their friends' children, even if they weren't supposed to be looking after them at the time.

Ian seemed to sense perhaps he should leave the rest of this discussion to Rhys and Nat and Aurelia and moved to his feet, the baby girl in his arms. He handed the empty bottle to his wife with a soft smile that seemed to say a lot more than what he was about to tell her. "I'll go change her and give her a bath." If he was lucky, he'd be back in time before breakfast got cold.

Aurelia rose with him, stealing a soft kiss from his lips as her fingertips stroked over their daughter's head. "Good luck," were her parting words as she chuckled softly, still reeling a little from her own attempt to bathe the baby girl a couple of days before.

Maybe it would have been a better idea to wait for Rhys or Nat to volunteer for baby service, but this was something he and Aurelia not only needed to learn but needed to master. Who would have thought that the prospect of bathing a small child would put such fear in a full grown adult? He smiled into her kiss before quietly departing, his footsteps heard padding back up the stairs to the nursery.

It was hard to ignore what was going on behind his back, but Rhys waited until Ian had departed before turning to Aurelia with a reassuring smile of his own. "It gets easier, you know."

She watched Ian out through the door, turning to sink back down into her chair as Rhys offered her some well-earned advice. "I hope so," she admitted ruefully. "I would like to have some basic idea of how to keep her clean and happy before she starts coming into her powers." She chuckled faintly, shaking her head. There was a slight chance that Morgan had inherited the shimmer from her, as well as whatever unique power from her blood. If she had, keeping control of the little girl would not be fun.

Nat looked up in surprise from where she'd finished washing Ana's mouth out. That little girl was now investigating her sippy cup again. "Powers?"

"Is that a given?" Rhys asked, practically echoing his wife's question as he flipped the pancakes and grabbed a plate to pile them on once they were done. "She isn't ..." He frowned at the memory of Aurelia as a demon, hoping to God her daughter hadn't inherited that from her mother. "... you know."

The look on both their faces was enough to make Aurelia laugh, however tired she felt. She shook her head in answer to Rhys' not quite question, smiling gently. "No, there is nothing left of the demon," she promised him. "Nothing but the shimmer, and I don't think it can be passed on. But my father was a witch, and I am a witch. Magic is passed on through the blood. If we are very lucky, she will not come into her powers until she is capable of understanding the meaning of "no"."

"Oh, it doesn't stay hidden until puberty or something?" he asked, chuckling a little as he imagined what it would be like to try and parent a child gifted with magic. He remembered watching Bewitched and all the problems Samantha and Darren had had with Baby Tabitha. "You better lock up the cookies as soon as she learns to twitch her nose!" he warned, with a laugh, secretly thankful their daughter was human, even if she did have a former angel for a father. With a thief for a mother, the worst he hoped to expect was a miniature escape artist.

"Well, not unless I bind her powers," Aurelia conceded. She hadn't made that decision yet; it was something she had to talk to Ian about when they were both reasonably awake sometime. "Most children start showing their power around eighteen months, unless their parents have cast a spell to keep it under wraps." She smiled at the astonished look on Natalya's face. "You seem surprised, Natalya."

Nat shut her mouth, wrestling with Ana to keep the little girl under control for a moment longer. "What sort of powers do you expect her to have?" she asked curiously, glancing at Rhys as though he should have told her this.

Rhys seemed to sense that Ana was becoming restless and handed her a pancake to keep her happy, until he was finished. Rhys only shrugged his shoulders at Nat in answer to her look. What did he know about witches and their offspring, other than what he'd seen on TV? Witches had never been his specialty - demons had.

And Aurelia's sort of witch was a type never before seen on this Earth. She and her daughter were unique, and Ian was the lucky man who got to enjoy it up close. The Belgian witch shifted, wincing a little at the ache between her legs, and settled once again. "It could be anything," she admitted. "Traditionally my bloodline manipulates energy. I can create shields, and energy balls. My father could become invisible through manipulating energy, and he had a small ability with telekinesis as well. Apparently my grandmother could astral project. There is no way to predict what Morgan's power will be."

Nat blinked, tearing up the pancake as she handed it, piece by piece, to Ana on her lap. "And I thought I had my hands full with you and Papa, malyutka."

Rhys finished adding the last couple of pancakes to the growing tower on the plate before moving over to the table to set the plate down. He was tempted to make a smart remark about energy balls or maybe magic balls, but somehow he sensed this wasn't the right time or place - a sign that perhaps he was maturing a little at last. "Astral project?" he echoed. "You mean like travel outside her body?" he asked, sounding a little surprised, though there wasn't much that surprised him anymore.

"Uh ... sort of." Aurelia gestured with her hands, somehow managing to convey that the power of astral projection was a little different to common astral projection with just that movement. "She could create a copy of herself that could move independently, and she could communicate with it. When she first learned to do it, that copy could not touch anything, and she would pass out while she was doing it, but as she grew in her power, she would stay conscious and be able to manipulate her environment with both forms at once."

Rhys' eyes widened at Aurelia's description of one of her grandmother's gifts. "That's unbelievable," he muttered. He had seen a lot of strange things in his day and not all of them on Earth, but he had never heard of such a thing as that. "Can you imagine a child able to do that?" he asked. There was no end to the endless trouble one could cause with such a power, if they weren't careful.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nat gasped laughingly. "Do not wish that power on their little girl!" she teased him. "You might end up babysitting more often than you wish to!"

Aurelia laughed with her, scratching a hand through her hair. "I could demonstrate it for you," she offered to Rhys with a weary grin. "It can be replicated with a spell."

"I'm not! I'm just saying!" he said, with a short laugh, making no defense for himself. "Gives a new meaning to words 'double trouble'," he said with a smirk, putting his hands up as Aurelia offered to demonstrate. "No, thanks! I'll take your word for it." On the other hand, he wondered if he should learn more about Aurelia's particular talents than he already knew.

Of course, she might even show him her Book of Shadows one day, unafraid to share a little of her knowledge in this world, especially now the demon was no longer there to threaten it. But it would not be today. "Is there any more coffee?" the witch asked in a somewhat plaintive voice. She was obviously not coping very well with the lack of sleep, leading to a certain amount of speculation on how difficult the birth had been.

"I'll get it," Nat offered. "Here." She swapped Aurelia's cup for Ana, who seemed quite content to sit on the witch's lap as she gummed her pancake.

Rhys frowned, remembering when Ana had only been a few days old. Natalya had been exhausted most of the time, and Rhys had done his best to help, but thankfully, they'd had all of Avalon to help them, and that led him to another question. "Why don't you go to Avalon?" he asked. "I'm sure the Lady would be more than happy to have you, and ..." He paused a moment before continuing, with a furtive glance in the direction of the stairs. "She's gonna wanna see the baby at some point to give her a blessing. Besides, she's sort of already connected to Avalon by name alone. We could take you there later, after you eat and get some rest."

Tired enough to need a moment to absorb that, Aurelia found herself following Rhys' furtive glance to the stairs in confusion. Was this supposed to be a secret from Ian? She didn't think so. "Go to Avalon?" she repeated, rubbing her eyes as she stifled a yawn. "I am not sure I understand. I thought ... I thought we had to wait to be invited. Well, that I have to wait. I have not drunk from the Grail yet."

No, not a secret, but he knew how much Avalon meant to the man and he didn't want him to overhear them and get disappointed if Aurelia decided this wasn't the time for it. He furrowed his brows at Aurelia's statement. "Why would you have to wait? You've already been there. You and Ian are practically legends there. Besides, you'd be with me and Nat. Do you think anyone would question the Champion and Priestess?" Except maybe the Lady herself, but he'd worry about that when they got there. "It's up to you, but you'd have plenty of help there." Although there wouldn't be any electricity or other modern conveniences, he thought the trip would be worth it.

"It is a thought," Aurelia admitted, knowing she would have to drink from the Grail soon or be denied access to Avalon for the rest of her life. The sooner, the better, in her opinion. "I will talk to Ian about it." She smiled wearily - life without electricity was nothing compared to life without a decent amount of sleep.

Rhys almost opened his mouth to reply to that, but thankfully bit his tongue. He knew enough about the absent-minded professor to know it was unlikely he'd decline a trip to Avalon, considering he had spent a good portion of his life trying to get there. "She's gonna wanna see the baby sooner or later," he said instead, the "she" being Elaine, the Lady of Avalon. "You better call him down here before the pancakes get cold," he added, with a nod of his head toward the stairs.

"I will fetch him," Aurelia nodded with a smile. Her reluctance to make a decision without speaking to her husband about it, even when she knew what his answer would be, was something she had a feeling Rhys probably didn't quite understand. Everyone's relationship was different, after all.

As the tired woman handed Ana back to her mother and shuffled from the room, still clutching her coffee cup, Nat chuckled softly, looking to her own husband. "They are exhausted already."

"All the more reason for them to go to Avalon. Or let us stay here a while to help. They're exhausted and they have no idea how much work is involved in dealing with a baby." Or at least, they were just starting to find out. He poured himself a cup of coffee and plunked himself down in a chair at the table, reaching over to walk his fingers up Ana's arm, just to amuse her.

"It is a shame they cannot simply up and move to New York," Nat mused, smiling at Ana giggled and flailed at Rhys' hand with what was left of her mushy pancake. "The house across the street is still up for sale." There were no prizes for guessing what she was thinking there.

"We could hire them a nanny, or ..." Rhys trailed off as his wife made a brilliant suggestion. The only problem was convincing the other couple to agree to it. They were too isolated here in Huntingdon - that was the whole reason Dylan had built this place to begin with. But there was Ian's job to consider, too. "If we can convince them to go to Avalon, it buys us time to work out the rest. Wasn't Ian working on a book? What better place to do research than there?"

"True. And there is nothing to stop us from buying that house ..." Nat's smile was turning decidedly impish as she considered the possibilities, bouncing Ana on her knee as she did. "We could be investing in property. Or saving a house for friends." Her eyes sparkled as she looked at Rhys. "Would they fall for that, do you think?"

"No," he replied honestly, Rhys chuckling in part at Nat's enthusiasm and in part at the realization that while Ian might fall for her plan, it was unlikely Aurelia would. And yet, she'd accepted his offer to stay at the cabin. "I think it all depends on where they want to end up."

"I would like to think that they would like to be close to family," Nat said thoughtfully, not knowing if Ian even had any blood family anywhere in the world. By family, she meant them - herself, Rhys, and Ana, the closest friends the other couple had. Living across the street was infinitely preferable to living five hours away.

"By family, I assume you mean us," he mused aloud. Though they weren't related by blood, they were part of the family via way of Avalon. Gina and Adam weren't blood either, but they were definitely family, at least as far as Rhys was concerned. "Ian's off for the summer, isn't he?" he queried, as he got up to refill Ana's cup of juice while the tower of pancakes was slowly getting cold.

"Of course I mean us," Nat chuckled, looking down at Ana as the little girl burped hugely. "We're family, aren't we, malyutka? We love Aunty Aurelia and Uncle Ian." She grinned as Ana burbled something incoherent, hugging the baby girl on her lap. "He should be, unless he is teaching summer classes. I do not get the impression he likes to teach, though."

"All the more reason to visit Avalon. You know Elaine is gonna wanna see the baby," he pointed out again, this time for his wife's benefit. Maybe they shouldn't be discussing their friends' fates, but if they didn't want them butting in, all they had to do was say so.

"Of course she will," Nat laughed. "Aurelia has been pregnant for almost two thousand years!" She cackled at the thought of this, having only just made the connection. "She is a medical miracle!"
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The child is a child of Avalon, Nat," he pointed out further, even as his wife laughed. Turning back, he handed Ana her juice. "Remember how exhausted we were in the beginning?" he asked, with a smile as he took a lean against the cupboard, arms folded against his chest and legs crossed at the ankles. Ten months made a huge difference, it seemed. There were very few sleepless nights now, and though Ana was still dependent on her parents for her care, she was sleeping through the night and was capable of feeding and entertaining herself, to a certain degree. "You know, I've been thinking ..." Which was usually dangerous in his case. "What about a puppy?"

The change of subject was almost fatal to Nat's ability to follow the conversation. Her smile faded into a look of comical confusion as she blinked, having to run that through her mind a couple of times before finally coming up with ... "What?"

"A puppy," Rhys repeated, gesturing with his hands to indicate an approximate dog's height as he explained further. "You know ... baby dog, grows into an adult dog. For Ana. I never got to have a dog growing up. We moved around too much. It would be good for her, and it wouldn't hurt to have a pair of canine eyes and ears around just in case. "The twins seem to get along well with Lucky. What do you think?"

She frowned thoughtfully, still more amused than put out by the suggestion. "Have you thought this through, milaya?" she asked gently. "We do not move around much, but there will be times when we are gone from home for weeks, or even months, at a time. If we were to do this, to take on a puppy, we would need to talk to Jason and Bethany, perhaps, about them looking after our dog when we are away, or even Ian and Aurelia, if they choose to come to New York."

"Or Gina and Adam," he suggested further, knowing Joey would jump at the chance to help with a dog, though he might then beg Adam for one of his own. He nudged Nat's foot with his own and smiled sweetly. "Come on, Natty. Don't you think Ana should have a pet? What do you think, Annybananny?" he asked, crouching down on the floor to tweak his daughter's nose. "Wouldn't you like a little puppy of your own like Lucky, that's not just stuffed?" He mimed wagging his tail and barking like a dog, arching his head to lick Nat's cheek.

"D'dadadada!" Ana howled with laughter, patting him rather more forcefully on the head than most dogs would allow even as Nat squealed and leaned away from the licking tongue against her cheek. There was a quiet snicker from the doorway - they were no longer alone.

He was about to lick Ana's cheek when he heard a snicker from behind him, and he quickly moved to his feet, blushing furiously - a possible first for Rhys. "I was just, uh ..." He gestured to Ana as if to explain, looking more than a little embarrassed, before turning away. "I'll just get the rest of breakfast ready," he said quietly and a bit sheepishly.

Aurelia, it seemed, had mastered the art of washing and dressing at lightning speed since the birth, having appeared in the doorway with damp hair, clean clothes, and a decidedly put out looking Morgan on her shoulder. Apparently baths were not considered fun yet, for anyone in the Evans household. "What are you doing?" the witch asked in amusement. "Ian is just dressing, he'll be down in a moment." She snagged the Moses basket from the corner of the room, moving it over to the table, and eyed Nat with a faint smile. "Should I put her down, or hand her over, do you think?"

"Oh, hand her over!" Rhys exclaimed as he set out plates and cutlery on the table. He stretched out his arms toward Aurelia, ready to scoop the baby right out of her arms, apparently anxious to hold a small one again. "Don't worry! I won't drop her. I promise."

As Rhys beat her to it, Nat burst out laughing. "I knew you were just as impatient as me!" she accused her husband, suitably impressed with the way Aurelia didn't even flinch, handing Morgan into his arms with a low chuckle.

"I thought he might be," the witch grinned as Morgan flailed her arms for a moment before settling in once again. "He was too quick to blame you."

"Blame her for what?" he asked, eying up the small one before settling her against his shoulder with the ease of a veteran father. He rubbed her back gently as he reclaimed a chair at the table. "Breakfast is served! Help yourself!"

"Sorry," Ian apologized as he arrived in the doorway. "Am I late?"

"For being here at all," Aurelia laughed, taking a seat at the table. It was a relief not to have to keep an eye on Morgan as she reached to help herself to breakfast, glancing back at Ian with a warm smile as he arrived. "We are being fed, mon coeur."

"And he is an excellent cook," Nat added, one hand underneath the sippy cup again as Ana slurped thirstily. "You both look better for washing up a little."

Rhys shrugged, smiling at both the praise and Aurelia's intuition regarding his true feelings about visiting. "I do okay," he said, as if it was nothing. He'd been taking care of himself a long time, and it was either teach himself to cook or go hungry. He was, of course, being humble. He had even worked in a diner once upon a time, but that hadn't exactly been gourmet fare.

Sliding a full plate to Ian's plate and reaching to serve herself, Aurelia smiled at the sight of their friends, each holding a baby. It wasn't too difficult to imagine them having another of their own in the not so distant future, though she had no powers of premonition herself. "You do better than okay," she informed her friend, taking an enormous bite with a groan of delight. "How long do you think they would allow us to stay in Avalon?"

"It's better when it's warm," Rhys remarked, frowning a little, and wondering if he should have waited and not rushed cooking breakfast until they were dressed and ready to eat. "Avalon?" he echoed, looking to Nat before looking back, a glance to each of them. "You're kidding me, right?"

Ian arched a brow at Rhys' reaction to his wife's question. "Kidding about what?" he asked, not quite catching the sarcasm in Rhys' voice.

Glancing between them, Nat smiled, stroking her hand gently over Ana's hair as the little girl lolled on her lap. She caught Aurelia's glance, biting her lip to keep from chuckling at the very genuine concern in the witch's expression as she clarified herself.

"I ... I do not quite understand what there is to be kidding about," Aurelia said uncertainly, her eyes flickering to Ian briefly. "We have not been back to Avalon since that first visit, months ago. We have no reason to think we will be welcome to stay there for an indeterminate amount of time."

"You mean two thousand years ago?" Rhys remarked with a smirk. For some reason, it seemed to amuse him to no end that both Ian and Aurelia seemed so reluctant to visit a place where they were so very revered. "You know, just because they don't send you a gold engraved invitation in the mail doesn't mean you're not welcome. Wait! Nat, have you got a slip of paper?" he asked, a plan coming to mind.

"In the drawer on the right," Ian instructed, with a nod of his head toward the cupboards, looking as equally mystified as his wife.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"A slip of ... what are you talking about, milaya?" As mystified as the others, Nat watched with interest as Rhys seemed to come to a conclusion of sorts. She was just as confused as he was with the reluctance of their friends to visit Avalon, though she could understand it to a certain extent. "They would be very happy to see you," she told them, swallowing a laugh at the distinctly unconvinced look in Aurelia's eyes. If only they knew how legendary they were, in that legendary place.

"Oh, for God's sake!" Rhys exclaimed, huffing a breath and getting up to search for paper and a pen on his own. It took a little digging around, but at last he was seated at the table again, juggling Morgan into a more comfortable position before putting pen to paper. Ian exchanged a curious glance with Aurelia, before turning to watch the other man. Rhys scribbled something down on the paper and tore it off the pad and handed it to Aurelia. "There you are. Not engraved in gold, but it will do." On the slip of was written in black ink: "You are cordially invited to visit Avalon at any time of your own choosing for as long as you wish, by personal invitation from the Champion and Priestess of Avalon." Below that was a scribble that appeared to be Rhys' signature.

Swallowing a mouthful of cold coffee to wash down her pancakes, Aurelia wiped her hand on her pants before taking the piece of paper. She read it through once, twice, before her lips started to twitch into a smile, leaning over to show it to Ian. "Perhaps we should get it notarized," she suggested laughingly.

"You don't need it ..." Rhys exclaimed, breaking off to lower his voice upon remembering he had a small child on his shoulder. "You don't need it notarized," he repeated quietly. "They wouldn't even know what a notary is in Avalon."

Ian was still arching a brow as he leaned over to look at what Rhys had scribbled on the paper, looking a little dubious.

"Look, you guys are practically legends there. You're heroes!" Rhys pointed out in obvious exasperation. "Do you really think you'd be denied entry? Elaine didn't even deny Zach entry and he's an ..." he broke off again, realizing he might have said too much.

"An angel?" Aurelia's smile was a little too knowing - they had met Zachariel, and Rachel, when they had returned to modern-day Avalon after their jaunt into the past. It didn't take a genius to work out what Zach's little secret was.

Nat's jaw dropped, and abruptly received four fingers inside it as Ana took advantage to investigate her mother's mouth.

Rhys laughed, both at Aurelia's good guesswork and Nat and Ana's reaction to it. "Yeah, long story," he said. "Seriously," he continued, his smile softening, warm and fond of their friends. "We're not gonna force you to do anything you don't want to do, but we're sure you'd be welcome, and if you don't believe us, we could just take you there ourselves. Couldn't we, Nat?"

"Of course we would," Nat agreed instantly. "We could go right now, you know we could. And Rhys is right - you would be more than welcome in Avalon. Everyone there knows who you are."

Aurelia's smile softened at their insistence, her eyes wandering to Ian once again. "If there would be no objection," she said quietly, "I ... I would very much like to visit Avalon again. It is very serene."

"Exactly!" exclaimed Rhys, grinning widely, and making the little bundle on his shoulder stir with a mild whimper of complaint. "Oops. Sorry!" He moved to his feet so he could sway the little girl back to sleep.

Ian had been about to say something again, when Rhys' exclamation cut him off. He turned to Aurelia now with a weary but adoring look on his face as he reached over to take her hand. "There's no objection from me, if that's what you want, love. It is peaceful there, and I won't deny I've missed it."

"And perhaps this time, when we leave, we should use the portal itself," Aurelia suggested. "Once I know where it is here, I will be able to shimmer us to it whenever we wish to visit." Across the table, she caught a glimpse of Ana reaching out to grab onto one of Morgan's feet curiously, half wanting to say no. But she let Nat deal with it, surprised to find how gentle the little girl was with just a few words from her mother.

"That's a good idea," Rhys interjected, if only for safety reasons. He wasn't sure if Aurelia had any enemies anymore, but knowing how to get back and forth to Avalon in a hurry was not a bad thing. "It's all settled then! Whenever you're ready," he said, glad they'd thought to pack a few extra days supplies for Ana's sake. "What do you think, Morgansies?" he asked, turning his head to the dozing baby on his shoulder. "I think Elaine is going to adore you."

"Morgansies?"

Nat burst out laughing at the look on Aurelia's face as she repeated the truly awful play on her newborn daughter's name offered up by Rhys. "You should get used to it, sestra," she warned cheerfully. "It will only get worse."

"What's the matter with Morgansies? Would you rather I called her MoMo? Or Morgey?" Rhys asked, looking dead serious and a little annoyed at their fun-poking at his choice of pet names.

"The real question is what should we have her call you?" Ian asked, as he finished off his pancakes, which he had to admit were better than anticipated.

"I think we might be able to convince her to call you Grandpa," Aurelia mused teasingly, rising to her feet. If they were going to Avalon, she was going to have to pack a few things and hope that Morgan could be convinced to drink breastmilk straight from the source after all.

"Grandpa! I'm not old enough to be her Grandpa!" Rhys pointed out, looking a little insulted. He was just barely into his thirties. If anything, Ian was older than Rhys, but Rhys wasn't about to point that out. Ian followed Aurelia to her feet.

"I'll help you pack," Ian volunteered, before looking back at Rhys and Nat. "Are you okay or shall I take her?"

Rhys turned away a little, as if he wanted to keep the little one all to himself - at least, until she needed a diaper change maybe. "No, I've got her. You go pack. We're bonding."

Leaving Nat laughing at her husband's almost possessive insistence on cuddling with the tiny baby, Aurelia took Ian's hand with a smile to draw him from the room and up the stairs to the chaos that was their bedroom. She considered the room for a moment, trying to work out what to take and what to leave. "I think we may already have godparents for our daughter, mon coeur."
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ian chuckled a little now that they were out of earshot of the other couple. "You think?" he asked. There really was no one else, but the Bristols. Neither of them had any family or close friends who would fit the bill. "Do you think he's sane enough?" he asked, though he was mostly teasing. If the Lady of Avalon found them worthy, he couldn't see why they wouldn't.

She laughed softly, turning to wrap her arms about his waist, leaning into him with a gently weary sigh. "He saved my life," she said quietly through her smile. "Sane or not, there is no man living but you with whom I would trust our daughter, except perhaps Rhys Bristol."

"I can't argue with that," he admitted, smiling softly and touching his forehead to hers. "Are you sure you're ready for Avalon again?" he asked, more concerned with her well-being than with anything else, save their daughter's.

"I have little to fear this time," she admitted, that calm confidence of hers still there, despite her tiredness. "I do not think Elaine will allow me to drink from the Grail if there is any chance of my being harmed, and we have been away a long time. I know you miss it, mon coeur. If they will have us, I would like to stay a while this time."

"I can see no reason why they wouldn't," Ian reasoned logically. Rhys was probably right - they would likely be treated as honored guests, considering what they had done for Avalon in the past. There was only one small problem weighing on his mind, and that was his father, but he said nothing about that for now.

Looking up at him, Aurelia reached up to stroke his cheek, smiling her soft smile for his eyes only. "The portal opens in Glastonbury, does it not?" she asked thoughtfully. "We could visit your father when we come out, before we come home. Introduce him to his granddaughter."

He arched a brow, wondering if she was reading his mind or if she just knew him that well. Well, she was a witch after all, so what did he expect? He couldn't hide the look of surprise on his face at her suggestion though. As much as he dreaded seeing his father again, he knew it was something he had to do or regret it for the rest of his life. "I suppose we should. He has a right to meet his granddaughter." He paused a moment before adding, "I will give it one last try, but if he so much as raises his voice to you or has anything to say about you or our daughter, I am through with him."

Aurelia's touch gentled against his cheek as she smiled up at him. "Anything encompasses a great deal, my love," she pointed out gently. "He cannot hurt us. He is alone in the world, and he has been for many years. Such people find it hard to admit their wrongs, and harder still to reconcile even when they want to. Give him a chance. Whatever he says, whatever he does, you will not lose me, and you will not lose Morgan. We are yours, always."

"I know," he replied quietly, sliding his arms around her waist to draw her close. "What have I ever done to deserve you?" he asked, chuckling a little as he answered his own question. "Other than rip my trousers," he said, remembering their first meeting. He'd been horribly awkward and clumsy and had thought she'd find him terribly stuffy and boring.

She laughed, nestling into his arms as he drew her to him, forgetting for a few minutes the ache between her legs, the looseness of her belly, the newborn baby in the arms of their friends downstairs. There was only him, her Ian. "I think it is I who do not deserve you, mon coeur," she told him tenderly. "Without you, I would be alone with my demon."

He wasn't entirely unaware of the pain she'd endured during childbirth and was still recovering from, but hoped a trip to Avalon would be good for her. There might be some healing found and some peace of mind, both of the heart and the body. "Your demon is no more, Ree, and even if it were, we would find a way to defeat it together." In all honesty, he thought it was Rhys who should be credited with that, not himself. Was it any wonder she was fond of the man? And though he didn't know the whole of it, he knew they had been friends a long time.

She hugged into his arms, warm and content with him, the greatest gift she had ever been given. "We should pack," she said reluctantly. "But what to pack? They give us clothes, they feed us. Baby clothes, perhaps. Pads." She grimaced as she mentioned this last one, rolling her eyes.

"And nappies," Ian added perhaps the most important item to the list, knowing what passed for diapers in Avalon were probably not particularly sanitary. The real question was cloth or disposable. Did one just pop through the portal to visit the nearest supermarket when they ran out? "You should relax. I can do the packing," he told her, knowing she was nowhere near healed yet, touching a tender kiss to her cheek.

"If I relax, I will fall asleep," she chuckled, her head turning to brush her lips to his before he could retreat too far. "I am dressed and clean, I can stay awake a little while longer. At least until Elaine has had her opportunity to look at our child of Avalon."

"Sit down, love. You only gave birth a few days ago," he said, rewording his statement as he untangled himself from her and led her to the bed. He was tired, but otherwise perfectly capable of packing and tidying up before they left for Avalon. There was no one they needed to notify as they had no neighbors, and he was on summer break from State College. They could disappear for weeks on end and it was unlikely anyone would come looking for them.

With the rephrasing of his suggestion, she couldn't really argue. It had only been a few days since she'd spent what felt like a minor ice age giving birth to the little person who now ruled the roost with an explosive rear end. Giving in gracefully with a soft chuckle, Aurelia sank down onto the edge of the bed obediently, watching Ian with fond eyes. "If ... if we were in a position to do so," she said thoughtfully, "would you like to move to New York?"

Once she was seated, he moved about the bedroom gathering bags and clothes they'd need while in Avalon, mostly made up of baby things. He knew modern clothing was of little use in Avalon and they'd be provided with both a place to stay and clothing to wear, as well as plenty of food. There was nothing they'd lack while they were there, but it wouldn't hurt to bring along a few modern conveniences. "New York?" he echoed, a little surprised by the question. He thought she'd like the quiet and isolation that the cabin provided and New York would be anything but that. It would be closer to her friends - their friends - though and that could be a good thing. "Is that what you want?" he asked curiously.

She smiled at the way he turned the question around onto her. "That is not answering the question," she pointed out to him with a quiet chuckle. "I can build a garden anywhere, and yes, I have enjoyed the peace and the quiet of this place. But this place is not ours, not truly, and I do not think raising a child so far from others who will want to love her is the right decision to make. But it is not my decision, and if you would rather stay, then we will find ways to make it work."
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He stopped in mid-fold of some newborn outfit or other to look up at her, brows furrowed in puzzlement. "I thought you wanted to stay," he pointed out quietly, though he was not averse to moving. He was not averse to much of anything, so long as they were together. It would be so easy to leave teaching behind forever and focus on his studies, what he was really passionate about. He was the Loremaster of Avalon, after all. What he craved was knowledge and learning and research, and what better place to learn but Avalon? But New York? He wasn't so sure. They needed to pay the bills somehow, and while he had a good job at Penn State, there were other colleges and universities and other ways to earn a living - like writing or lecturing, for example.

"If it were just us, then I would probably prefer to stay," she admitted softly. "But it is not just us. We have Morgan to think of. Rhys was raised in this cabin, and though he has turned out well, I do not think his raising was a normal one. I do not want our daughter to be lonely, mon coeur."

He could have suggested they move back to State College and even buy a house there, but he wasn't sure he wanted to teach anymore, and the idea of living near their friends - however crazy they were - was a tempting one, if only for Aurelia and Morgan's sake. "I can make some inquiries at New York University, if you like. We could take a trip there and see how we like it. It's not something we need to decide today, but I agree Morgan should be around children her own age, and I do not want you to become lonely."

"Wherever we go, we will always be able to visit Avalon," she reminded him gently. "Once I know where the portal is on this side, it will be seconds to reach it, and seconds to return after we have visited. And I do not mind carrying you across the sea whenever you wish to visit the library there." She smiled teasingly, but there was genuine warmth in her eyes for how easily he had accepted her reasoning. "We have time."

"I only want you to be happy, Ree," he told her before going back to packing what few belongings they were bringing along. "Perhaps we can visit New York when we are done in England," he suggested. They had the whole summer to decide before he was due back at college for the fall, after all.

"I like that idea," she agreed softly. "We do not know what the summer will bring to us. We have three places to visit, and we do not know what will happen in two of those places. We may be well surprised." Unable to sit idle for too long, she rose onto her feet to help him, despite his insistence that she stay put, determined to weather through her aches and pains.

Whatever it was they decided, it wouldn't be decided today, but it seemed Ian and Aurelia's lives were about to change yet again and it was in good part due to the two people who had taken them into their hearts and offered them friendship with open arms. The only two people Ian and Aurelia trusted to help raise their daughter, the only two people they could truly call friends and who were slowly becoming family, the only two people who shared their connection to Avalon. Others might know them as the Champion and Priestess of Avalon, successors of Arthur and Morgaine, but to Ian and Aurelia, they were simply ... family.

((A new baby for Rhys to coo over before he gets another one of his own! We may be visiting Avalon again in the near future - who can tell? Many, many thanks to the wonderfloriousness of my awesome writing partner!))
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